Ending Addiction for Good

Do You Know How Many Servings You Really Drink?

Face it: most people don't keep an accurate count of how much they drink.

When people are out having a good time on the town with friends, let’s face reality; many do not keep an accurate count on how much they drink—maybe a rough estimate. It is a well-known fact that alcohol affects our ability to make sound decisions or there would not be such high statistics on death from alcohol related accidents.

Studies show that people tend to under report their amount of consumption by as much as 66 percent, compared with the amount of alcohol purchased.  Data was gathered from surveys over a three-year period from 45,000 individuals. There was no difference in the habits of women and men, but young people under the age of 24 were most likely to under report their drinking. One study also found that those who reported drinking one time per month were actually drinking twice a month.

The Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria said that is a problem because surveys of alcohol consumption are crucial to estimating disease and injury caused by people's favorite recreational drug.

Most people know that drinking can cause future long-term health problems and can lead to alcoholism, but often think that they can control themselves even when they do not do so. This is the beginning story of many addicts and is, in fact, a form of denial, which needs to be addressed. A quart of beer is not equal to one 12 oz. can of beer for example, but some people will claim that it is just “one” beer. Most people have no idea how many servings are counted in a bottle of wine, can of beer, or bottle of spirits. It can be hard to admit the truth sometimes.

Unlike in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, labels on bottles of alcohol in Canada, and the United States, don't include the number of standard drinks, making it hard to gauge how much guzzling is going on.

Educating consumers about the size servings of alcoholic beverages is an excellent first step. People can make better choices with more accurate information and maybe prevent some alcohol abuse from starting by drinking more responsibly.

Constance Scharff, Ph.D. is the Senior Addiction Research Fellow and Director of Addiction Research at Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center.

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